||Issue No. 329||20 October 2006|
Sucking the Oranges
Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Unions: The IT Factor
Politics: Bargain Basement
Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Corporate: Two Sides
International: Unfair Dismissals
History: A Stitch in Time
Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Multis Raid Nest Eggs
Arrowcrest Group Pty Ltd is the parent company of Tristar Steering and Automotive which used John Howard's IR laws to go after the retirement nest eggs of staff, with up to 43 years service, in the AIRC, this week.
After keeping workers in the dark for months about its intentions, Tristar made application for its employment agreement to be terminated.
Termination would see an insurance bond, taken out three years ago as part of an agreement between the company and unions, evaporate.
In the interim, Tristar has made hundreds of workers redundant and virtually closed up shop, leaving its oldest and longest-serving employees without the industrial muscle to resist the planned heist.
Workers predicted Tristar would try it on when it became clear who wasn't being offered redundancy packages.
Unions made repeated requests for the company to be honest about its intentions but Tristar refused to comment.
This week's application was strongly opposed by employees and their unions.
Sixteen-year sparkie, Gavin Avery, gave evidence on behalf of workmates.
AMWU organiser, Martin Schutz, says the company's own figures suggest it owes remaining staff around $5 million.
If the company is allowed to renege on its 2003 agreement, under Howard's GEERS scheme, that figure would be carved back to around $500,000.
Workers Online understands some grandparents at Tristar would see retirement packages, built up over decades, slashed from nearly $200,000 to between $12,000 and $15,000.
"It would be a disaster for many of these people and their families," Schutz said. "They have earned this money and they were banking on receiving it.'
The AMWU opposed the Tristar application on the grounds of public interest, arguing a business that routinely broke its own agreements shouldn't be able to evade undertakings by terminating an agreement.
In separate actions, the AMWU is prosecuting Tristar for breach of agreement in the Industrial Magistrates Court and is running a dispute, in the IRC, around alleged breaches of the agreement.
Tristar parent company, Arrowcrest, is headquartered at 334 Burleigh St, Woodville North, and headed by prominent South Australian businessmen Cheng Hong and Andrew Gwinnett.
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